Drafting a Letter of Intent
(Graduate or Postgraduate Studies)
Writing a Letter of Intent, also known as a Statement of Purpose, when applying for a graduate or postgraduate program at a university sets the tone for your application.
A Letter of Intent is your “story”. It explains your background, your experience, your goals for your future, the reasons behind the application for your choice of study, whether it’s for a Master’s or Doctoral program, and why the university should consider you.
Format and opening
As in any formal letter, you need an opening, a salutation/ greeting, subject, body, and closing. Length requirements may vary depending on the university and the program, but generally, one page is the acceptable length.
Your name and contact information comes at the top of the letter (either centered as a header at the top of the page, or justified on either the left or right of the page) followed by the date and person to whom you are addressing the letter (on the left of the page).
If you know the name of the specific person involved, then use it – title, first name and last name. But don’t address the person by his or her first name in the salutation/greeting. If you don’t know the person’s name, then use the department to which you’re applying.
Below is an example…
Ms. Jane Spark
535 Freedom Lane
Los Angeles, CA
Cell/Mobile: 054 123 4567
March 3, 2021
Graduate Program Director
Dear Graduate Program Director / Dear Prof. Tom Jones / To Whom It May Concern
APPLICATION FOR MASTER’S DEGREE IN BIBLICAL STUDIES
The content of your letter will then follow here – after the subject.
What to include in the contents of your letter
The body of your letter is where you introduce yourself to the person/committee and explain why you think you’d make a good candidate for the program to which you’re applying.
There are a few things you need to include in this letter.
- Reasons for your choice: Why this university, this program, this field of study, etc?
- Your background: Your university experience, summary of your thesis results, accomplishments, previous publications, and awards/recognition.
- Personal aspects: A more holistic view of who you are, your interests, goals, what you hope to achieve, and why you’re applying for this program.
- Other aspects: Any extra-curricular activities that you feel will be of benefit to your application, for example, volunteer work, internships or exchange programs.
How to organize your letter
The order of the contents depends on where your strengths lie and what is more important to you.
You might choose to focus on the program you’re pursuing in the first section – why it’s important to you, how you chose this field, why you want to continue with graduate/postgraduate studies, etc.
In the second section, you could detail your educational and/or career background, which includes your results and achievements.
The third section could cover the skills that are relevant to the program and how you’ve demonstrated them, and could include your extra-curricular activities and projects. It could also include the personal aspects of your application.
Grammar, and Spelling
Something to consider when writing a Letter of Intent (in any language, but for this purpose, in English), you need to make every effort to use the correct grammar and spelling. Even if it’s your mother-tongue, it is easy to make mistakes, so it’s a good idea to use spell-check or Grammarly, or ask someone you know who is proficient in the language to help you.
We look forward to reading what you’ve written.
If you’d like to see some examples of Letters of Intent/Statements of Purpose, read this article: